“Most people felt lost after high school. Sometimes I felt like I’d never really been found in the first place.” – Samhain LaCroix
I need to be honest up front, I chose to read this book solely on the quote on the cover from Sherman Alexie. If he found this book to be funny and entertaining, I felt that I would also enjoy it. He was not wrong. Lish McBride’s Hold Me Closer Necromancer is a funny novel, in that “Oh boy, how can things get any worse for this kid” kind of way. The story follows Sam LaCroix, a college drop-out who spends his days working at a fast food restaurant and his nights skateboarding and playing video games with his friends. For all he knows, he is living an inconsequential life. However, through an accidental taillight smashing, Sam’s life is enveloped in a series of unfortunate circumstances. Throughout the course of the novel he is beaten, belittled, berated, broken, and several other negative non-B related things. I guess that makes it sound like a good ol’ comedy of errors-style book. The thing is that Sam is no ordinary young adult.
Sam discovers early in the story that he is a necromancer, someone who can commune with the dead. It is this fact that sends Sam on a journey where almost ever bad circumstance occurs to him or his loved ones. But throughout his story, Sam maintains a dry wit that makes him so likeable. The reason I was drawn to Sam’s character was his everyman-ness. He is so unremarkable at first, and yet he is able to endure great pains, both emotional and physical, and come out of it with a sarcastic remark that keeps the reader going. The story is engaging not because of how Sam is knocked down, but how he gets back up.
I do have one semi-complaint with this novel, and that is it’s similarity to the Twilight series. Both books have a similar setting, Washington State, and both books include werewolves and other dark folklore figures. But that is pretty much where the comparisons end. While Twilight is a romantic story of teen love, Hold Me Closer Necromancer is a story of mishap and misadventure, of comedy and bad timing.
As for use in the classroom, I would suggest it be used in a Grade 10 classroom or higher, as some of the darker aspects of the book may be harder for younger readers to deal with. The book is a coming of age story, where Sam must overcome adversity and figure out his true self. While it is definitely not the deepest of novels, the plot is fairly straightforward and would be good for reluctant readers, as the pacing is pretty good. I would probably not recommend it to be used with Lit Circles, but if I had to, I would pair it with Pittacus Lore’s I Am Number Four, Michael Scott’s The Alchemyst, or Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, as each novel is an action driven story where the protagonist struggles with coming to grips with their power.
This is a funny dark-comedy with an interesting protagonist and a fairly straight-ahead plot. A good choice for reluctant readers or fans of western folklore and campy horror-ish themes.